Thursday, April 28, 2016

SUNSHINE, SHOWERS, THUNDER























Apparently this is going to be one of those on-again, off-again weather days—dark, cloudy and looking like rain one minute, only to turn sunny and bright the next. The wind is gusting and I regularly hear not-too-distant thunder rumbling. But so far only a single brief drizzle has fallen. 

None of which is a complaint. It's April, and this is typical spring weather here in southwest Ohio. I actually rather like moody and mixed days. Though such capriciousness is playing havoc with the cutting and fitting of materials needed for a little bit of remodeling I'd hoped to finish on the kitchen today. 

Because I have no garage, carport, or even a shed big enough to serve as a workshop area, the back of the pickup is stuffed with plywood, 2x4s, and similar building materials and serves as my rolling "lumberyard." The tailgate is a makeshift workbench. And I must set up any power tools—drill, sander, circular or saber saw, along with the sawhorses—out in the open…which means I have to keep an eye on the sky and be quick get things into the dry should I think it's about to rain.

Unhandy, frustrating, and more than a little risky given the price of good power tools—especially given my tendency to become focused on the task at hand and oblivious of my surroundings. There's a better than even chance I'll forget to pay attention and stuff will get wet. I have no illusions when it comes to my propensity for distraction… 
___         

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

SUNLIGHT AND HOSTAS


Recent warm weather and the occasional rain has really popped the hostas. Their leafy green clumps have shot up like magic. Some are already well over a foot high.

The photo was made a few days ago, just as the late-afternoon sun was starting to sink behind the tops of the tall sycamores on the island across from the cottage. Myladylove and I were sprawled in our pair of deckside rockers. Tired and fairly bummed. After working all day on various kitchen remodeling details, we'd come to the joint conclusion neither of us liked the paint color we'd chosen and just applied to one wall. We'd now have to buy something else and do the job over.

Looking around, I noticed how low-angled sunlight glowed through the semi-translucent leaves of a nearby hosta and made a couple of casual shots…click, click. Frankly the image turned out way better than I expected. Simple, straightforward, compositionally strong.

Wish I was even half this pleased with the kitchen wall.

………   
   




Sunday, April 24, 2016

RIVER FOG WITH REDBIRD





















It's chilly out this morning, 39˚F as I write, though predicted to warm considerably by midday. The sun is bright and the sky a high, cloudless blue. Because the temperature of the air above the river is cooler than that of the water, a silky veil of fog has been created—soft, ethereal, lovely. I decided to make a photo or two before the rising sun burned this temporary overlay away. 

That red bit in the upper center of the image is a male cardinal who was singing loudly the whole time I stood on the deck fiddling with the camera. 

I saw him sitting there, heard him of course (you can't NOT hear a redbird singing 20 feet away!) but never thought to include the bird in my photo. Guess my pre-coffee brain couldn't handle dealing with multiple compositional elements. That he ended up in the shot anyway was only by accident. 

Alas, no artistic decision was employed…just dumb luck. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

AGE & BEAUTY


Age and beauty. The more you attain of the first, the greater amount of help you'll need to retain the second. Just ask anyone in the cosmetics industry. Or last year's hottest fashion model. 

Closer to home…if that flaming conflagration of birthday cake candles now sets off the smoke alarm, all you gotta do to dissuade yourself from thinking you're immune from the process is to take a long honest look in the mirror. Though not something I'd recommend if you're already on antidepressants. 

Time always wins in the end—even with cheese and wine. The highest mountains eventually yield. Still, being past-your-prime doesn't inevitably mean a spontaneous loss of beauty. 

Earlier this morning an aged dandelion bloom caught my eye. The bright yellow flower head had gone to seed. The remaining fluff ball had lost the majority of it silky-white "parachutes," which looked not only sparse but a bit damp from the dew.  

Hmmmm…

I've gone to seed. Turned rather white on top. And lost a worrisome number of parachutes to life's prevailing winds. Moreover, I've lately been avoiding mirrors except to shave—and I then tend to look a bit sparse and damp myself.

I can't decide if there's a message here…or whether I want to know. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

BIRDS GOTTA FLY?

"Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly…"





I hate to say it, but Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein got it wrong in the latter part of their lyric for the Show Boat tune, "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man." Of course, they probably weren't all that familiar with nuthatches.

If you're a nuthatch, flying is optional…as is gravity. 

Should a nuthatch wish to get from one portion of a forked tree trunk to another, it could hippity-hop down one and ratchety-climb back up the other. Or it could just keep its wings tucked, fling itself in the intended general direction, and trust the rest to luck and levitation. 

Nope…birds don't always gotta fly! Not if you're a nuthatch!   
  

Monday, April 18, 2016

HAIRYS MAKE ME HAPPY!

I've been watching a pair of hairy woodpeckers busy themselves in the dooryard as they investigate a fallen box elder and several dying ash trees. While quite similar to a downy, the hairy is a notably larger bird and sports a longer bill.   

Hairy woodpeckers are always a treat. A generally common species throughout this corner of Ohio, they're fairly unusual visitors here along the river. Downys, pileateds, red-bellieds, and flickers are the daily fare. Hairys are infrequent visitors—though not as uncommon as yellow-bellied sapsuckers, and certainly not as rare as a red-headed woodpecker. 

I expect the reason for their relative scarcity is, in part, due to the woods hereabouts, which is merely a thick river-corridor belt of mature trees. Probably not sufficiently extensive to suite a hairy. My backyard pair were likely curious strays who followed the streamside timber down from a much larger expanse of floodplain woods which begins a half-mile upstream.

Too, when compared to their look-alike downy kin, hairy woodpeckers seem a bit wilder, easier spooked, less tolerant of houses, people, traffic. A thoroughly sensible and quite understandable attitude.   

Regardless, I'm glad they found their way here. Hairys make me happy! 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

RAVISHED BY VIOLETS!

Right now my yard is a riot of violets. Thousands of 'em, all a'bloom! 

Yes, violets are invasive, but ravishingly so. Neither ugly nor harmful, just merely prolific. Common wildflowers which are uncommonly comely. 

Every April I await their coming. Violets signal spring—and to my mind are all the more dear for this vernal connection. They are fundamental to the burgeoning season. I welcome their lovely purple-blue invasion.  

So ravish me…please! I truly don't mind.